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The Language of Sand: A Novel
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The Language of Sand: A Novel

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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  344 ratings  ·  92 reviews
A magical novel that unravels one of life’s greatest mysteries—how to go on after a devastating loss—through the power of words and their ability to heal, to transform, and to touch the heart.

Luck: an event that could be for good or ill, depending on your interpretation.

As a lexicographer, Abigail Harker has always taken refuge in the meaning of words. But when fate erases...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2010)
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Leah
The story isn't exactly original (recently widowed woman moves to a small town to start her life again), the characters are fairly stereotypical (close-knit community on an island), and there were no great surprises despite the mystery parts of the plot. Yet, The Language of Sand has its charms too. The protagonist, Abigail, is a lexicographer, and the chapters are alphabetical, each beginning with a word and its definition. Language and the individual words of it take on great importance throug...more
Edith
The Language of Sand was a very enjoyable read. I won this book as part of First Reads and couldn't wait to get started reading it. I was hooked from the beginning. The author does an excellent job building characters that you feel as if you know.

You feel Abigail's grief over losing her husband and son to a house fire as if it were your own grief. I immediately related to Abigail and felt her trepidation over moving to Chapel Isle and becoming the caretaker of the lighthouse. When the author de...more
Kimberly
Aug 29, 2013 Kimberly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fiction readers
Recommended to Kimberly by: library
I found this book at the Library, and thought it would be a good book to read as the summer comes to an end. I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Very well written, and a very flawed yet incredibly likable narrator...nice details, and for me, I could imagine living in a lighthouse....intelligently written yet a very quick and enjoyable read. The best thing I liked about the character was that she was a reader...no matter what was going on around her, she could get lost in a book...
Elizabeth
Well any book that has editing dictionaries as the main characters employment is going to score points right off the top for me. I really enjoyed the intermix of small town life, the ability to define loyalty and the growing pains of personal change. Having lost everything I owned in a house fire, though thankfully no family loss, I could sympathize with Abigail's appreciation for what little she had and trying to carve out a new space of her own. Overall I really enjoyed the storylines and thou...more
Roxane Sanford
This novel was a good, easy read. Enjoyed the authors writing style.
Karen
Admittedly, I am a sucker for any book about islands and overcoming odds. This book had these elements and the added bonus of the protagonist being a lexicographer whose thoughts center around language and words. I really liked the definitions of unusual and perhaps extinct words preceding each chapter. Abigail Harker, the protagonist in this story is escaping her grief by moving to a remote southern island in the off season and to be the caretaker of a supposedly haunted lighthouse.
I loved the...more
Randy
If one lives on an island a novel that starts with a ferry boat ride is quite compelling even if the story turns out to be chick lit and a prequel (a sequel is promised) to a high fallutin' romance novel which may or may not include bodice ripping. We'll find out.

But in part one, our heroine, a lexicographer, is escaping from a tragedy and signs on as caretaker of a dilapidated lighthouse on the Outer Banks. It's a small island, dependent on summer tourism to survive. The island is, perhaps, the...more
Paula
I would have given this novel 1 star except it ended up serving a purpose. Woken up from a nightmare at 3:30 AM, it turned out to be mind-numbing enough to distract me for a couple of hours until I could get back to sleep. The author certainly didn't have insomnia therapy as her intention, although her protagonist herself, Abigail (who annoyingly obsesses about her newly given nickname, Abby), a lexicographer by profession, puts a second-hand pulp romance novel to similar use in the book. That A...more
B. Lynn Goodwin
Sep 04, 2010 B. Lynn Goodwin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to B. Lynn by: anyone facing loss, starting over, or curious about second chanc
Luck

How do you deal with grief that is too strong for words? Abigail Harker learns to grapple with her overwhelming sorry in Ellen Block’s rich new novel, The Language of Sand. When Abigail’s husband and child die the night their house burns to the ground, she feels like everything she knew and trusted is gone.

After recuperating she takes the position of caretaker at the lighthouse on Chapel Isle where her husband spent summers as a boy. She does it partly to honor him and partly to reinvent her...more
Lena
I received this book for free from Goodreads First Reads.

This book is about a woman, Abigail, who moves to an island just two weeks after being released from the hospital. She was in ICU for months after her home caught fire, killing her husband and her 4 year old son. Not knowing what to do with her self, she moves to Chapel Isle, an island off of the North Carolina coast. Here she takes over the caretaker's home of a lighthouse. The lighthouse is no longer functioning but that doesn't mean the...more
Janice
This book, one I won from First Reads, was enjoyable, and a very easy read. Abigail is a lexicographer, but leaves behind her job after the tragic deaths of her husband and son in a house fire, which also robbed Abigail of her home and possessions. As she relocates to Chapel Isle, an island among the Outer Banks, she becomes the keeper of a non-functioning lighthouse, and the inhabitant of the adjoining cottage, one vastly misrepresented by the local realtor. In the early parts of the book Abiga...more
Mindy Conde
This is the first chance I've gotten around to reviewing The Language of Sand by Ellen Block. It was a good book - more about grieving and coping than a spooky ghost story, which was what I expected, but still a good read.

There are three main plot lines running through this story, all revolving around our main character, Abigail after she attempts to make a fresh start as lighthouse keeper of a run-down lighthouse cottage on a small island in North Carolina's Outer Banks. The first one, the one...more
Sara
I won a free advanced copy of this book from Goodreads, and it was definitely a good book to have won.

The Language of Sand follows a woman named Abigail, a lexicographer by trade, who relocates to a small island in North Carolina after a fire causes her to lose both her possessions and her family. On Chapel Isle, Abigail is to be the new lighthouse caretaker, only things are not exactly the way they were described. The lighthouse is in terrible shape and most island resident believe it's haunted...more
Susan
I was pleasently surprised by Ellen Block"s Novel"The Language of Sand".I was drawn in immediately by Abigails story of loss and healing.Choosing To go to Chapel Isle,NC was not just a fluke.She needed to see where and what her desceased husband had loved.about the island ,that could help her find herself again,and start fresh.Boston was her home,but Chapel Isle was slowly becoming hers.The people of Chapel Isle,saw her as a good person,not asking her why she came there,but will she stay..Her pr...more
Nicole
Ellen Block tells the story of Abigail, a lexicographer who takes a rental home on a small island where she will serve as caretaker of a lighthouse (which is no longer in use). The story unfolds in the aftermath of the loss of her husband and child in a fire, and Abigail's experiences - and the people she meets - on Chapel Isle help bring her back to life.

I really appreciated the framing function of the alphabet and the relatively obscure words that began each chapter.The words are always obliqu...more
Ellen Black
I almost didn't buy this book, because I had a gut feeling I was going to be dissatisfied. However, the story was intruiging enough that I went against my gut feeling and bought the book. I can't say that the book is bad. However, the story is about loss - loss of family, loss of love, loss of money, loss of freedom, and yet, despite all the variations on loss, I never felt any depth from the characters. The characters were described in a way that made them all unique, yet somehow, the emotion t...more
Jessica
I won this through the First Reads program and I'm so happy I did. I'm honored to be the first to read and offer a review on this great book! The characterization was fantastic. I truly felt as if I were there on the small Outer Banks community of Chapel Isle. I pictured myself roaming the streets, living there, and being a part of a community like this one that Block created.

The main character, Abigail moves to Chapel Isle after the tragic death of her husband and son to a house fire, which sh...more
Heather
This true-to-life book has the reader engrossed in the story immediately. While it involves a very sad tragic event, this story is realistic and very well written. Abigail moves to an island that her late husband visited in his childhood. She needs a change and an escape from her life circumstances. She doesn’t create a new identity, but her name changes unintentionally to Abby and she grows to be a new person as she deals with her loss and gains new friends. Block draws the reader into Abby’s l...more
Paula
Jul 24, 2011 Paula rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Brittany
Recommended to Paula by: Yolanda
This was a very quick read with enjoyable characters and a wonderful setting.

After losing her husband and young son in a tragic fire, Abigail has moved to Chapel Isle as the caretaker for a lighthouse, hoping to connect in someway with the island that her late husband loved as a boy. When she arrives, she finds the lighthouse possibly haunted and quite run-down; the town full of colorful characters and herself changing from the Abigail she has always known into simply Abby.

I found it an enjoyab...more
Carol
This was a lovely read - a little slow in the beginning but it is more of a character study and a study of relationships than it is an action adventure so it is slower paced. The writing was beautiful. Here is one of my favorite parts:

"She was ashamed for being able to breathe and speak and smile when they couldn't. She wore that shame like tight-fitting clothes she couldn't remove. The ever-present pinch of grief was taut across the shoulders; bereavement laced around the chest, sorrow cinched...more
Kaci
Not my usual book but still really good! I'm rooting for Nat and Abby but this author is good at holding out on that. You can really feel Abby's emotions in this and know how painful it is for her.
Peggy
Abigail Harker leaves a tradedy behind and moves to the small island community of Chapel Isle, North Carolina, to be the caretaker of a non-functioning lighthouse. Along the way, she meets the quirky island folks, who try to help her come to grips with the terrible tragedy that has occurred.

Abby helps the island folk, solves a mystery about the lighthouse, catches a robber, and helps a romantic interest escape a murder charge. She also survives a hurricane, restoring the lighthouse and Thursday...more
Elizabeth
This was a very enjoyable book on many levels. I felt a great sense of time and place. The characterization was pretty good, but I think the characters will be deepened in further volumes. The plot was gentle but moved well and there was an entirely satisfying conclusion. My instincts were excellent when I purchased THE DEFINITION OF WIND the second novel in this series because I wanted to slip right into it. I loved the way each chapter started because it is nice to carry away something from a...more
Leslie
Block's protagonist, Abigail, finds herself on an island where everyone knows everyone else (and their business), but there's still room for secrets. Abigail, soon Abby, learns to navigate her grief as she tackles her rundown caretaker's cottage, Chapel Isle, and its odd-duck inhabitants.

Straightforward yet elegant prose allows the reader to experience Chapel Isle along with Abigail - the only fault here is that the story seems to wish it were longer, as the ending is somewhat abrupt. Perhaps Bl...more
Toni
The basis for this book is not exactly original- a woman suffers a seemingly insurmountable loss and must learn how to go on; yet, the style of the telling is unique. Abby is a lexicographer- editor of dic tionary -so every chapter is a letter rather than number and begins with a dictionary entry of an obscure word that portends the mood of the chapter.Abby is likable and interesting. I like that she conjugates latin verbs as a mantra to calm herself. I found myself rooting for her .The beach to...more
Paula
Great escape book to read on a rainy sunday afternoon. Loved the setting of the book and need to get book #2.
Wendi
The Language of Sand was a beautiful novel. Surviving a great tragedy, but determined to live to the best of her ability, the main character Abigail is strong and quirky. Much like the other character's in this novel, Abigail is taking life one day at a time, and as she does so you can't help but become connected. Isn't that what life is all about? The connections we make with the people all around us?

Each character in this book was developed beautifully and the setting was nothing short of spec...more
Tia
This was a really good find! A nice balance between getting a peek into the main character's heart and the pain she was trying to escape, and fun light humor. I enjoyed the quirks and the "realness" of the characters. It seemed like the first 3/4 of the book was building on everything, and then it wrapped up really fast. I felt like the ending could have slowed down just a tad. But I've found in my own writing that the endings of books are the hardest part to write, because you know everything n...more
Debbie
Lately I've been reading a lot of books about the NC Outer Banks...this is the first by this author and it was a very quick and satisfying read...breezed through it in just a few hours today. After the death of her husband and son, Abigal Harker, a lexicographer by trade, has always taken refuge in words, but when fate intervenes she feels like her life foundations have disappeared. Abby's words help her heal as she learns why her husband loved this little island in NC.

Started the next book by s...more
Sharon
An enjoyable read. The main character is a lexicographer, so the author started each chapter with a dictionary entry relevant to the events in the chapter. It added an additional layer of meaning and was a creative way to name each chapter, from Abecdarian in the first chapter to Zetetic in the last. The characters were likable and relatable. If the author wrote a sequel, I'd read it. I'd like to know if Abigail/Abby stays on the island and how she continues to evolve as she recovers from her lo...more
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